How Do You Know Your Loved One Is an Addict?

How Do You Know Your Loved One Is an Addict?

It’s not easy to recognize from the get-go that your loved one has become a drug addict and/or an alcoholic. It’s only when his symptoms have worsened to a degree that it becomes painfully obvious he has impulse control and substance abuse issues that you might be spurred to action, especially if he displays some stereotypical attitudes and behaviors of an addict. Nevertheless, an intervention can be quite difficult to promulgate when your loved one himself is unlikely to admit that he has a problem in the first place.

Addicts have a tendency to remain in denial while at the same time covering their tracks, as though by hiding their usage it means they’re not really addicted in the first place. However, you can go about planning your loved one’s intervention by recognizing the variety of signs that indicate he’s an addict. You should pay attention to such symptoms because if you don’t, you’ll be planning his funeral instead. Don’t be so quick as to brush off the symptoms right under your nose or hiding in plain sight.

Because euphoria or that drug “high” is a commonplace benefit of substance usage, once your loved one is addicted, he can’t help stop using. His ability to control himself is taken away by addiction, even if consciously he wants to quit already.

Pay Attention to the Symptoms and Don’t Be Flippant

Quite a lot of people have a flippant attitude towards addiction. People think that just because they drink coffee everyday then they’re coffee addicts. Binge watching movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe means you’re an MCU addict. However, these exaggerations make people unaware of the seriousness of real addiction. It’s different from social conceptions or stereotypes in regards to how an addict looks or behaves. Truth be told, alcoholics and drug addicts are more common and less obvious even though their definition is nebulous in the minds of the public. Actual addicts in denial are a dime a dozen in the real world.

They’d rather admit to being a cinema addict than confess they’re crack addicts for sure. Indeed, they can get quite defensive when accused of being a real addict, with them quickly pointing out that liking something a lot isn’t enough to classify one as addicted. They also think it’s something that happens to others and not themselves. As long as they’re responsible in their usage, they won’t end up becoming addicted. While this is true in a sense, human nature dictates that there’s a slippery slope between usage and abuse that can lead you astray. There are many common warning signs when it comes to substance abuse and addiction.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, you could be addicted if your loved one showcases the following symptoms and behaviors:

  • Not paying the bills
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Secretive behavior such as lying
  • A new friends and new hangouts
  • Bloodshot eyes or enlarged pupils
  • Strange body odors or trembling hands
  • A shift in mood, attitude and motivation
  • Choosing to wear sunglasses more often
  • Borrows money that he never pays back
  • Sleeping more or suffering from insomnia
  • A sudden, unexplained increase in spending
  • A giving up once-favorite pastimes and hobbies
  • Unusual changes in sleeping patterns or schedule
  • Steals or takes money from you behind your back
  • Secretive or unexplained phone calls or cash withdrawals
  • Poor performance at school or work and/or being absent
  • Making an effort to cover up unusual body odors or breath
  • Changes in ways you cannot understand, excuse, or explain
  • Angry outbursts and having a volatile or unpredictable attitude
  • His schedule might change frequently without your knowledge
  • Concealing what’s on his computer screen or creating new online or bank accounts
  • Inattention and not following through on obligations or assignments on time or at all
  • More bouts of depression or melancholy related to psychological symptoms or withdrawal

As for the most common physical symptoms of an addict attempting withdrawal, and probably failing due to them, you can expect the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Depression
  • Fever or flu
  • Muscle aches
  • Seizures and anxiety
  • Trembling or tremors

If such signs are confirming your suspicions of addiction rather than allaying them, then you might be wondering what you should do once you are convinced your loved one has become addicted.

Taking a Closer Look at Someone’s Condition

people, relationship difficulties, conflict and alcohol abuse concept - angry woman having argument with man drinking beer and watching tv at home

Before attempting a confrontation, you should cool down your head. Don’t act impulsively or say anything you might regret later. Conducting interventions for addicts require a level head. You should get your facts straight. It’s understandable that you’re feeling afraid, nervous, or angry right now. That’s only natural. However, you should talk to your family member or friend after you’ve figured out what you want to say and what you’re feeling right now. Sort yourself out.

For your information, this data has been gleaned from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, and the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. At any rate, here’s how you should go about thoroughly investigating your loved one for signs of substance abuse:

  • Family History Can Influence the Likelihood of Addiction: Although the realization might hurt, the fact of the matter is that if you have a family history of addiction, this might influence the likelihood of your loved one becoming an addict himself due to his upbringing, background, and environmental influences. It’s an issue that can either be nature or nurture. Addictive tendencies can be in his genes or DNA. This can also lead to him hanging out with likeminded people that will lead him astray. Aside from being predisposed, he can also be influenced by being surrounded by addicts themselves in his immediate family or in the neighborhood he’s in, with them leading by example. It’s 50/50 nurture versus nature.
  • Snoop Around Receipts and Phone Bills: If your loved one is a friend, spouse, a child who’s underage or a minor, or romantic partner who lives with you, then you might have access to his pay stubs, phone bills, credit card statements, and bank statements. They might clue you in when it comes to his absenteeism, unusual spending habits, or suspicious cash withdrawals. Make sure to look over phone bills as well. There might be a pattern of incoming or outgoing calls, curious toll-free or tolled numbers, and so forth. Call these numbers yourself and confirm your fears about your loved one’s excessive usage of drugs or alcohol.
  • Start a Journal and Record Things for Posterity: Start recording when your loved one leaves for his job or classes and when he returns. Check the activity on a computer you share. Some addicts are careless enough to not delete their browser history, allowing you to browse which sites they’ve been visiting. They might be into excessive online gambling, shopping, pornography, or video-gaming on top of visiting sites where marijuana kush or seed delivery is possible. Some addicts are experts at hiding their behavior, so checking their browsing history might not be enough. This is especially true if they have password-protected laptops.
  • The Prioritization of Consumption: If you’re worried about whether a loved one is suffering from alcoholism or if he’s merely drinking socially then pay attention to his behavior. Does it seem that drinking has become important and relevant to his self-worth and the way he lives his life? Gauging alcoholism is trickier than drug addiction due to how socially accepted it is. However, take notice not only at the rate he’s consuming drinks but also if he has stopped doing other hobbies in favor of getting more drunk. This applies to any behavioral changes in favor of consuming more prescription drugs or illicit drugs like ecstasy, marijuana, meth, heroin, or coke. What he prioritizes is what’s important to him.
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  • Trust Your Heart or Your Instincts: You’d be amazed at how your suspicions and instincts can be correct most of the time even though there are also times when you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. Nevertheless, it’s better to be safe than to be sorry. If you suspect there’s a problem, investigate immediately. Err on the side of caution. Don’t be so shy about snooping around and wait until your loved one’s behavior has already worsened. Gather as much solid information as you can before talking or intervening on behalf of a suspected addict of a friend or family member. This way, your loved one’s likely denials will be shut down and he will have to face facts regarding his addiction.
  • Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: Lying becomes easy when someone is addicted. He can’t help himself, so he lies. He lies to you, his loved ones, in order to protect you from embarrassment and to protect his own self from humiliation. He also lies to himself and goes into denial in regards to his excessive, abusive usage of substances in order to alleviate his own guilt and to pretend that everything is fine and he’s still in control (even though he’s not). Don’t forget that addiction is a disease that causes people to lie and act out of character. Addicts will cover their tracks because they’re compelled to use drugs. Having evidence that they’re using will cut through any attempt at deception.
  • Behavioral Changes and Mood Swings: Does his (suspected) usage of drugs make him feel more in control of himself as though he has dependent relationship with these substances? Does ceasing usage result in the aforementioned withdrawal symptoms or at least a more cantankerous version of himself in the morning? It’s only natural for everyone to feel good doing things they enjoy and feel bad when avoiding these same things. However, the positive physical payoff can make him blind to the negative consequences of excessive consumption of drugs, which tricks his body into rewarding him with good vibes even though he hasn’t really accomplished anything aside from taking drugs.
  • Learn about the Prevalence of Drug Usage: Pay attention to the clues outlined above when it comes to the prevalence of drug usage of the potential addict. Is he finding himself using drugs more often or in longer periods of time, so much so that his attempts at hiding them becomes more and more sloppy? If you notice a never-ending compulsion from your loved one, with him insisting on “just a little bit more” of alcohol or drugs, then the craving he has is excessive and he’s using up the space in his life for the most unproductive of activities. His priorities might end up messed up, with him neglecting work, school, or family life in favor of drugs.
  • Cessation Issues and the Power of Addiction: Quitting cold turkey might not be the best course of action for a person who has a long-standing addiction to whatever substance is out there whether legal, illegal, prescription, nonprescription, and recreational. Does your loved one look uncomfortable and antsy in regular settings? He might be suffering from the side effects of attempting to quit drugs and alcohol without rehab assistance. During the inevitable intervention, ask your loved one how important taking drugs or alcohol is to him. Ask for an honest answer. Tell him to take note of his emotional and physical response to taking and not taking the drugs. The higher his panic of not doing drugs, the stronger the old of the drugs in his mind.
  • Disruptions in Life Due to Substance Abuse: Has your loved one’s drug usage and alcoholism ever disrupted your relationship with him or his relationship with others in your circle of friends or immediate family members? Has he rearranged his priorities due to his addiction? Imagine his existence as a drawer full of hanging folders. Every time he adds in files about drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, he pushes away folders in his drawer or throws them away altogether in order to make space for his new hobby that is increasingly getting more attention and priority from him to the point that he couldn’t function without it. It’s nearly the same case when it comes to addiction to social media, video games, or using your smartphone, except that drugs are far more insidious.
  • Getting a Medical Checkup with a Professional: You should make an appointment with a medical professional on behalf of your loved one who’s addicted. Do this even if he’s not overdosing on anything or, even better, if he’s in the beginning stages of addiction. You don’t need emergency medical concerns in order to get a doctor or counselor involved in order to explain to your beloved the risks of addiction. This professional can also screen him in regards to his level of addiction. If this medical specialist confirms suspicions of compulsive behavior, mental health problem, and/or drug addiction, then he can also advise your loved one in regards to what his treatment options are. This can help push the person you love into getting rehab and live a healthier, sober life.
  • Beware of Suicidal Behavior: Before you can enter your loved one into rehab, you might need to put him on suicide watch first. If you find out that your loved one is planning, contemplating, or attempting suicide, you should immediately call 911 or your locality’s equivalent of the emergency number. You can also go to 1-800-273-TALK or the Suicide Prevention Hotline for assistance. If a loved one is experiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping consuming alcohol or drugs, seek medical attention ASAP. This could be a life-threatening scenario in light of the dangerous side effects of an addict stopping cold turkey and thusly requires certain medications in order to fix. After the emergency is done, then you can talk about rehab.

The Bottom Line

Drunk husband abusing wife in domestic violence concept

Addiction doesn’t happen in an instant. It’s something that develops gradually. People who work with addicts like volunteers, therapists, and medical personnel will take note that addiction typically starts with recreational use, no matter what the pro-legalization contingent for marijuana might claim. Over time, as one gets more desensitized over usage of various drugs or drinking of different types of alcoholic drinks, he will sooner or later up his dosage in order to get the same high or pleasure he used to get when he was still new at substance use, which then turns into substance abuse.

This repeated use or behavior would then undergo the natural progression of regular usage. This happens even though it puts the person’s finances, education, career, relationships safety, and health on the line. He can’t help himself. He has become obsessed with substance abuse, after all, with chemicals messing with his head and brain chemistry at that. An addict might feel compelled to seek out by compulsion a drink or drug due to their strong cravings, although by how much depends on the person himself. You can also go about convincing your loved one to get rehab without getting him on the defensive as well. Show to him that you’re there for him to help him rather than condemn him for his condition.

Lanna Rehab Will Help People Get Back on Their Feet from Addiction

Has it dawned to you that perhaps your loved one has ended up becoming an addict? Do you wish to get help for it but don’t have the money or insurance coverage for local or domestic treatment? Then it’s about time you gave Lanna Rehab in Thailand a shot. Medical tourism of the rehabilitative kind will allow you to pay for a fraction of the cost the room and treatment entailed when undergoing 24/7 inpatient rehab care. Speaking of which, their hotline is available 24/7 as well. Call them now for more details in regards to their rehab packages and whatnot.

Martin Peters

Martin Peters has a BA (Hons) Dip HE Dip RN CSAT III and is the Group Program Director Lanna Healthcare. He is a Registered Nurse and Certified Substance Abuse Therapist working in the mental health field since 1994; Martin has had a wide range of experience in management and supervisory roles within established healthcare systems, and has provided consultancy services to a number of private and public sector organizations in the UK and Asia in terms of management, policy writing, accreditation and recruitment. Martin’s addictions experience has been in developing inpatient services in Thailand since 2009, both clinical and operational. He has been instrumental in expanding and developing a non 12 step inpatient treatment centre and opening a further inpatient centre with a 12 step approach, implementing KIPU Electronic Records, strengthening hospital partnerships, introducing a Scholarship for students under the Masters in Addiction Studies Program at The ASEAN Institute for Health Development and working with an international accreditation body. Martin has also been a speaker at several international conferences on addiction, including ASEAN conferences and has also guest lectured at Mahidol University (Thailand), University of Sarghoda (Pakistan) Institute of Medical Sciences (Pakistan) and has been a representative on the CARF Standards Advisory Committee for 2016.In 2015. Martin became a Co-Founder of Lanna Healthcare, launching Lanna Rehab in March 2016 and opening Jintra in January 2018. In June of 2018, Martin was involved in the merger of Lanna and DARA, becoming Thailand's biggest private licensed operator. Martin is currently a Joint and Asia Health Co Ltd Owner Operator of Lanna Healthcare Co Ltd, which under its umbrella manages Lanna Rehab in Chiang Mai, Jintra Rehab in Chiang Mai and DARA Rehab in Koh Chang - all Thailand MoPH Licensed Addiction Facilities providing world-class treatment in Thailand.